But I love it because it’s tiny and slips securely into any pocket. It has useful features but is simple to use. I had it on a ridiculously cheap plan. And best of all it only has to be recharged every three weeks.
Nonetheless, the phone company has decreed that its days are numbered.
And while I might need to have a little ceremony as I place the old phone in a recycling bag and post it off to help protect mountain gorilla habitat, or be turned into jewellery, it’s time for me to admit that I have been observing other people using smart phones, and wondering if I might be missing out on something. I can choose not to have loud conversations in shops or on the bus; I can choose to actually leave it at home when I go for a walk. But maybe I might like to have a device that can do so many useful things with just the touch of a screen.
For example, many apps are available that can help with health and wellbeing, such as guided meditations. You can take a whole range of meditations with you and slip into one whenever you need to, wherever you are.
Or load music onto it and listen any time you need help to get you moving or to slow you down.
Some phones come with a built-in health program, where you can track dietary intake, set exercise goals, and monitor your progress. It can literally talk you through your activity, for example reminding you if you need to walk a bit faster to get your heart rate into the right zone.
But it’s not just about recording calories and exercise, or even carrying your own virtual guru or health coach with you; a small event that happened some time last year convinced me that when the time was right I would stop being a technological snob and get a smart phone myself.
One of our regular customers was talking quietly as she moved through the shop. She selected the item she wanted and made her way to the counter. Then I noticed there was a moving image of someone on the screen of the smart phone she had been speaking into; our customer noticed me looking and explained it was her sister. She isn’t able to go out to the shops and, besides, she lives in Melbourne, so our customer described how she “takes her sister shopping” on Skype. Sometimes they’ll have coffee together; the phone gets set up on the table and they talk while they both have their coffees, over 100 kilometres apart, but together just as if they were seated at the same café table.
I looked at the screen, said hello and waved; our customer’s sister smiled and waved back, and I thought that this was the most touching example I had ever seen of the value that new technologies can give us.
Certainly, there are many issues that accompany the new handheld communication devices: too much time immersed in trivia; too much time sitting down with only the thumbs moving over the screen, instead of getting up and doing the gardening or walking the dog; too easy access to instant online betting; difficulties getting to sleep because late-night exposure to the light of the screen interferes with our sleep hormone balance.
But my days as a grumpy old luddite may be over as I admit that, used sensibly, we can employ these devices to connect more readily with loved ones, and enhance our wellbeing in many ways.